Respiratory Viral Infections and Asthma: Is There a Link?

Erwin W. Gelfand, MD

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In This Article

Persistence of Infection

At present, the mechanisms by which acute respiratory tract virus infection can affect the development of asthma long after the infection has resolved are unclear. Some of the pathologic changes may simply persist for long periods after the acute infection. A defect in NANCi function has been demonstrated to last for up to 24 weeks following RSV infection in ferrets. Persistence of infection, resulting in chronic alterations of epithelial cell function and chronic inflammation, is supported by findings in guinea pigs and calves where RSV antigen can be detected in the lung 6 and 12 weeks after the infection. In guinea pigs, this persistence is associated with persistent AHR.

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